Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quince Candy 101...oops

Quince (Cydonia oblonga 'Van Damen') in my husband's large mits

Looking for the perfect quince candy recipe?  So am I. This post was supposed to be about quince candy that was a bite of heaven but this recipe turned out more like chunky jam instead.  I made some once before but could not for the life of me find the recipe I used (its probably hiding someplace safe) so I had to find a new one online.  So why am I writing this blog at all you ask…because evaluating what didn’t work and tweaking the original recipe will help us discover what will work. 

What is the big deal about quince candy anyway?  For starters it is said to be equivalent to Turkish Delight when made properly but for me, finding that recipe has become a good puzzle and I love the reward of solving puzzles.  Besides if we get this one right there will be one stellar recipe for quince candy out there that everyone can enjoy!

First off let me say that making quince candy does take some patience but it is worth it and is really quite pretty as well as an unusual and delightful confection...well normally it is.  So here is the recipe I followed.

Lets get started!
First I peeled, cored and dice enough fruit to fill my Dutch oven about three quarters full. The recipe I used didn’t specify what amount of raw fruit was to be used so I guess and would recommend 10 cups.  If you have more than you need you can always sweeten it and use it on waffles, (we love quince sauce on waffles).

This is simmering too hard, thus the excess foaming of the fruit.

I poured in enough water in to cover the fruit well and added 1 ½ tbs. fresh lemon juice. (Lemon juice helps to keep the fruit from turning brown.) I covered the pot and set it on medium high heat until it began to simmer nicely and then took the lid off and turned the heat to medium low so it simmers slowly until the fruit was tender.

Save the juice and reduce down for later use

The original recipe said it would take 20 to 30 minutes…I’m guessing the author of the recipe I was using cut their fruit into large chunks and I had cut mine into 1” diced bits which cooked twice as fast and were actually starting to fall apart.

Next I drained the fruit.  Because the fruit was cooked past being tender I had to be sure the strainer I used to drain the fruit didn’t allow for the smashed bits to run on through with the juice when it was strained.  A medium sized wire strainer worked great for this with only the tiniest bit of fruit getting through.

I weighed the drained fruit, which came to 4 pounds…exactly what the recipe called for (got lucky on that one) putting the drained fruit into the pot.  I added an equal weight of sugar to the pot as the recipe called for, added 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and stirred it to blend. (Equivalents for cups are noted below for your convenience.)

Do not hurry this pot or you'll scorch the sugar

I set the heat to medium low and sat watch over the pan, stirring frequently too avoid burning the sugar for 2 ½ hours until the fruit was thick enough that the spoon left a visible trench behind it when run through the middle. (Again as the recipe directed)

The natural color of quince when cooked long enough.
Hot fruit into the pan and spread evenly
Run your hand over the paper to smooth the candy

The fruit was then poured onto a large jellyroll pan lined with parchment paper, spread evenly to about ½’ thick and covered on top with a second sheet of parchment and left to dry 36 hours.  The recipe called for only 24 hours but it seemed too moist to me so I gave it a little extra drying time.  My pan was a bit larger than needed.

Good morning my sweetness, you look so lovely.

This morning I lifted the paper and was not very pleased with how moist and sticky the fruit was.  I could have left it to dry on its own but since I don’t have anywhere to stash a large baking sheet for a week, I decided to try using my oven set at 200 degrees and dry it like fruit leather.  It was in the oven for about an hour. 

Hmmm...chunky candy it's not supposed to be.

I admit I was impatient and this didn’t work very well either as the edges dried only a little bit but the center was still too moist.  I think adding some gelatin to the fruit would really have helped in this recipe so one could actually pick it up with their fingers but as it stands…I recommend a spoon.  I will try the gelatin and the methods I recommend in the notes below in the 102 version so stay tuned.

  • Smaller pieces take less time to cook than larger ones.
  • Fruit is chunky so I recommend processing fruit in a food processor before returning it to the pan or the candy will come out chunky as well.  
  • Quince fruit is a bit grainy in texture so I am looking for a way to reduce this character and still keep the valuable pulp in the candy.
  • Be sure the parchment is up on the sides of the pan so you can extract the candy without it sticking to the sides or bottom
  • Weight to cups equivalents for both fruit and sugar: 8 cups = 4 pounds or 2 cups = 1 pound. (Makes it really easy if you want to half or quarter the recipe)
  • Save the water you drain off of the fruit and use it for a spiced drink or cook it down to capture the pectin which quince are famous for.

Copyright © 2011 by Patty Hicks
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